Worth it for the Spanish rendition—which those who don’t speak the language will be happy to have learned.


From the Canticos series

With this fifth addition to her Canticos line of songs for babies, Venezuelan-born Jaramillo partners Mexico’s Day of the Dead’s painted skeletons, or “calacas,” with a popular Latin American children’s song, “Los Esqueletos.”

This how-to-tell-time counting rhyme is punctuated by the catchy refrain “Tomb-a-laca tomb-a-laca tomb-a tomb-a, tomb-a-laca” and follows the nattily dressed skeletons as they emerge from their tombs (tumbas). The clock counts up from one to 12, while the bony party animals eat, dance, and play. The Spanish language lyrics beg to be shared with laugh-out-loud abandon. However, “esqueletitos” becomes the Spanglish word “skeletitos” instead of “little skeletons” for the sake of maintaining the meter. Unfortunately, this modification isn’t enough to make the stanzas work. The English-language translation is forced and awkward in too many instances. “When the old clock strikes the hour of three, / three skeletitos backwards flee!” Rather than rewriting the lyrics, Jaramillo must rely on near rhymes since the eye-catching black-and-white illustrations are identical for both versions. Sadly, aside from a clock with movable hands, the interactive elements of Jaramillo’s previous books are lacking here. The accordion-fold design, on the other hand, continues to ensure that neither the Spanish nor English text takes precedence over the other. A free downloadable app of the song is available for home enjoyment.

Worth it for the Spanish rendition—which those who don’t speak the language will be happy to have learned. (Board book. 1-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-945635-06-9

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Encantos

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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Genial starter nonfiction.


From the PlayTabs series

Panels activated by sliding tabs introduce youngsters to the human body.

The information is presented in matter-of-fact narration and captioned, graphically simple art featuring rounded lines, oversized heads and eyes, and muted colors. The sliding panels reveal new scenes on both sides of the page, and arrows on the large tabs indicate the direction to pull them (some tabs work left and right and others up and down). Some of the tabs show only slight changes (a white child reaches for a teddy bear, demonstrating how arms and hands work), while others are much more surprising (a different white child runs to a door and on the other side of the panel is shown sitting on the toilet). The double-page spreads employ broad themes as organizers, such as “Your Body,” “Eating Right,” and “Taking Care of Your Body.” Much of the content is focused on the outside of the body, but one panel does slide to reveal an X-ray image of a skeleton. While there are a few dark brown and amber skin tones, it is mostly white children who appear in the pages to demonstrate body movements, self-care, visiting the doctor, senses, and feelings. The companion volume, Baby Animals, employs the same style of sliding panels to introduce youngsters to little critters and their parents, from baboons to penguins.

Genial starter nonfiction. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-2-40800-850-5

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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Caregivers eager to expose their children to fine art have better choices than this.


From “Apple” to “Zebra,” an alphabet of images drawn from museum paintings.

In an exhibition that recalls similar, if less parochial, ABCs from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (My First ABC, 2009) and several other institutions, Hahn presents a Eurocentric selection of paintings or details to illustrate for each letter a common item or animal—all printed with reasonable clarity and captioned with identifying names, titles, and dates. She then proceeds to saddle each with an inane question (“What sounds do you think this cat is making?” “Where can you find ice?”) and a clumsily written couplet that unnecessarily repeats the artist’s name: “Flowers are plants that blossom and bloom. / Frédéric Bazille painted them filling up this room!” She also sometimes contradicts the visuals, claiming that the horses in a Franz Marc painting entitled “Two Horses, 1912” are ponies, apparently to populate the P page. Moreover, her “X” is an actual X-ray of a Jean-Honoré Fragonard, showing that the artist repainted his subject’s face…interesting but not quite in keeping with the familiar subjects chosen for the other letters.

Caregivers eager to expose their children to fine art have better choices than this. (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5107-4938-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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